The reopening of Beloit Public Schools during this pandemic is a matter of public policy that will take planning, common sense, honesty and a bit of courage.
While public policy should be based on scientific and statistical facts, it is often influenced by perception and popular opinion. Every other school district in Rock County has reopened without resulting in any associated increased community spread of COVID-19.
Medical experts, with the aid of the media, suggest that minority populations are at an increased risk for contracting and dying from the virus. The Beloit School District has a higher percentage of minority students compared to the surrounding school districts. This fact may be contributing to the fears of the teachers and the administration in the Beloit public schools.
To date, however, there is no evidence that members of the various minority groups are more likely to spread the COVID-19 virus compared to their non-minority counterparts.
The CDC, and Harvard School of Public Health offer plans to reopen schools as safely as possible. These plans include social distancing, face masks, hand washing and a number of other mitigation measures that may be implemented, depending on the extent of community transmission.
Schools across the country and across the world have successfully reopened. Beloit schools can also reopen, even before vaccines are widely available, if fear is replaced with knowledge, common sense and safe practices.
It will take courage and strong, intelligent leadership to make this work. The children of Beloit deserve our best efforts.
DR. PIERRE S. CHARLES